New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations


New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
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New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
Volume 40  Number 2

In the latest New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations the following topics are covered. If you wish to read the full articles or download the entire NZJER issue you need to subscribe to the NZJER.

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Retention of skilled migrants in the New Zealand Dairy Industry

Catherine Poulter* and Janet Sayers** 


The retention of skilled migrants is a key issue facing many industries. This study focusses on factors that enable and hinder retention of skilled migrants in the New Zealand dairy industry.  A model was developed from existing literature containing four contexts for migrant experience and five key migrant experience process stages. From this model, a self-completion questionnaire was developed and then distributed via four dairy organisations to those migrants workers who were retained. Findings discuss the six most important retention factors identified:  pride in the industry; opportunities for career advancement; skill and knowledge enhancement; commitment to the industry; enjoyment of the job; and good work relationships. Analysis of qualitative data showed where industry improvements could be made: work practices and pay; a coordinated communication strategy from the industry; more efficient government immigration processes, and coordinated policy around cultural and social integration. Two contributions – practical and theoretical – are provided.

* Catherine Poulter, School of Management, Massey University
** Janet Sayers, School of Management, Massey University

Injury rates and psychological wellbeing in temporary work: A study of seasonal workers in the New Zealand food processing industry

Peter Schweder*, Michael Quinlan**, Philip Bohle***, Felicity Lamm****, and Andy Huat Bin Ang*****


A growing body of research has examined the effects of job insecurity or different forms of precarious work, such as temporary employment, on occupational health and safety (OHS). A number of reasons have been proposed to explain the more mixed results with regard to studies of temporary employment, including the diversity of these work arrangements, the health indices used, and a number of other complicating factors. There have been very few studies of seasonal work, as a specific form of temporary employment. In addition to addressing this gap, this study provides evidence with regard to two other explanations of ‘mixed results’, namely the importance of controlling for exposure and the possibility that associations differ depending on the particular health indices/outcome measures selected. Findings highlight the importance of controlling for exposure when comparing OHS outcomes for permanent and temporary workers, using multiple health indices and the need for systematic research into different types of temporary work. Several factors that may explain why seasonal workers experience higher rates of injury but appear to have adapted positively to intermittent employment are identified. The study reinforces the need for a more nuanced explanation of how temporary work can affect health and safety.

* Peter Schweder, Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Research, AUT
** Michael Quinlan, School of Organisation and Management, Australian School of Business, The University of New South Wales (correspondence);
***Philip Bohle, Work and Health Research Team,Ageing, Work and Health Research Team, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney
**** Felicity Lamm, Centre for OHS Research, AUT
***** Andy Huat Bin Ang, Centre for OHS Research, AUT.

Employee participation and quality of the work environment: Cases from New Zealand

Raymond Markey*, Candice Harris**, Katherine Ravenswood***, Gay Simkin**** and David Williamson*****


The article reports on an investigation of the association between direct and representative forms of employee participation and the quality of the work environment, including the psychosocial work environment.  A multi-method research strategy was utilized in eight organisational case studies across four New Zealand industries: hotels, schools, aged care facilities and food manufacturing factories. The study finds that workplaces with strong forms of participation displayed high levels of work environment quality, but that this association was mediated by the nature of different forms of participation and their relationship with each other, as well as by industry characteristics. Representative participation plays a critical role, but in the absence of union representation, JCCs or direct participation can also play important roles. In other words, it appears to be either union or non-union participation but not both, that is associated with positive QWE outcomes.

These results support previous research suggesting that non-union forms of employee participation may displace or undercut unionism, but there is no confirmation that direct participation was associated with poor QWE outcomes as suggested by some recent literature. The research also contradicts European, particularly Scandinavian, evidence regarding the complementary role of direct and representative participation, including union representation, which may reflect the impact of differential national industrial relations regimes. Further research is needed at this level to examine the differential impact of various forms of employee participation on the full quality of work environment, including its psychosocial aspects.

* Prof Raymond Markey, Director of the Centre for Workforce Futures and Professor of Employment Relations  – Department of Marketing and Management, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
** Candice Harris, Associate Prof, Department of Human Resource Management and Employment Relations, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
*** Katherine Ravenswood, Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
**** Gay Simpkin, Department of Management, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
***** David Williamson, Senior Lecturer, School of Hospitality and Tourism, Auckland University of Technology

Research Note: The state of human resource (HR) competency research: Charting the research development of HR competencies and examining the signals from industry in New Zealand

Marcus Ho*, Diep Nguyen**, Karen Lo***, Cameron McLean****, Stephen Teo*****


Human resource (HR) competencies for HR professionals have been implicated as an indicator of organisations’ pursuit of strategic human resource management (SHRM). Utilising signalling theory, this research note charts the development of HR competency research and examines the signals given by organisations in the recruitment of HR professionals in New Zealand.  This research note reports on the signals that organisations recruiting HR professionals give in their job advertisements. Findings indicate that the development of HR competency research has progressed to more strategic concerns and focused on the management of competencies by organisations.  In contrast, signals by organisations appear to emphasise functional rather than strategic competencies.  Implications for theory and practice are discussed. 

*Marcus Ho, AUT, **Diep Nguyen, AUT, ***Karen Lo, AUT, ****Cameron Mclean, *****Stephen Teo, AUT

Research Note: The state of New Zealand Union membership in 2014

Sue Ryall* and Stephen Blumenfeld**


The Centre for Labour, Employment and Work (CLEW) has collected data on union membership each year since enactment of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991. In that time, there has been a dramatic decline in the share of New Zealand’s workforce that belong to a trade union, as well as a concomitant shift in the composition and structure of union membership in New Zealand. While declining union membership over the past three or four decades is an international phenomenon and much has been written on the impact of this on employment conditions and the rise of social and income inequality, the drop in trade union membership and density experienced in New Zealand in the first few years of the ECA 1991 was far more precipitous than in virtually any other country around the globe.

* Sue Ryall, Centre Manager, Centre for Labour, Employment and Work, Victoria University of Wellington
**Stephen Blumenfeld, Director, Centre for Labour, Employment and Work, Victoria University of Wellington.

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